Abu Dhabi: A top drag racing official has promised a new unique calendar for the sport in the future built around the success of the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit.
“The concept of drag racing was always there, but putting in a brand-new circuit was the new idea. And now that this has been in existence for the past two years, we are keen to deliver a unique and different sort of calendar in the future,” said Yousuf Al Sayegh, Drag Product Manager for Abu Dhabi Motorsports Management (ADMM).
With much of the gulf’s racing activity centred round rallying, drag racing is a relatively new entrant on the scene, only making its debut at a purpose-built track at the Umm Al Quwain Complex some five years back.
However, the Yas Marina Circuit Drag Racing Centre became the first National Hot Rod Association (NHRA)-certified strip when it was opened in March 2010, giving a permanent home to some of the fastest vehicles on the planet. The first Yas Drag Racing Festival was held later the same month.
“Bahrain followed us shortly and today we have some fantastic drag racing facilities here in the region,” Al Sayegh said.
“The motive behind having an NHRA certification from the governing body for drag racing in the US was to ensure drag racers get a safe and controlled environment while pursuing their passion in motorsports and we are here to deliver this excitement.”
Situated next to the circuit’s F1 track, the centre has two grandstands with a seating capacity of 5,000 and houses its own race control, hospitality and paddock areas.
With the strip getting a good response, the ADMM will is now proceeding with a first-ever Gulf Drag Racing Championship and a four-round UAE Yas Pro Drag Racing Series. The gulf competition will also include rounds in both Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
“The number of competitors is increasing with each race and it is our responsibility to ensure we cater to this rush in interest. We have also been receiving a lot of attention from drivers from the US and Australia,” Al Sayegh said.
“For the time being our task will be to attract people here as drag racing is a comparatively new sport and then we need to get them involved. I think we have already done things that others have not and we can look very confidently towards a great future.”